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Minnesota breweries to legislature: SOS

Half of the state's breweries say they face closure within six months under current circumstances

Half of Minnesota’s breweries say they’re on track to close within six months.

That’s according to the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s latest survey of its 150 members, in which 15 percent of 77 respondents said they could close as soon as the next month.

Stuck between the pandemic and the state's alcohol regulations, Minnesota craft breweries have begun dumping excess beer and half of the industry’s 4,500 workers have been furloughed.

Now, brewers are pushing for the state Legislature to consider a number of methods of relief, including allowing breweries to sell beer in 12- to 64-ounce containers.

“Without urgent help, we’re at risk of losing an entire craft industry built by so many hard-working Minnesotans,” Lauren Bennett McGinty, executive director of the guild, said in a statement. 

"Without ample off-sale options and a significant drop in orders from distributors and retailers, there is just no way to make up the lost revenue."

Under Minnesota law, breweries can sell 32-ounce crowlers and 64-oz growlers to-go. These containers are beginning to run out of stock nationwide, Bennett McGinty told the Minnesota Daily

Meanwhile, craft beer sales are declining in liquor stores, where consumers are trying to get in and get out. Some breweries, such as Foxhole Brewhouse in Willmar, have stopped selling in stores altogether to retain more profit, the Star Tribune reports

“If breweries could do a four and a six pack out their front door, it would help significantly," Bennett McGinty told the Daily.

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Some breweries, like Surly, Summit and Fulton, are considered too large under state law to sell growlers and crowlers, further complicating matters. 

The guild has also asked the Legislature to consider suspending regulatory fees through 2020, waiving sales tax payments through October and creating a rent abatement and loan forbearance program. 

In a video posted to the group's Facebook page, Bennett McGinty elaborated on what craft brewers have been pushing for and why.   

"Nothing is going to happen unless you, Minnesota craft beer fans, call your legislators and ask for support," she said in the video.  

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